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Apply to be the 2017 NESA Eagle Scout NASA Astrobiologist

The National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) has a rich history of placing worthy Eagles on expeditions. These unique experiences provide an entry into the world of exploration. Through the BSA's STEM Initiative, NESA selects Eagle Scouts to participate in field experiments in exotic places. The NASA Astrobiologist is a new program in 2017 and will be offered to 2 deserving Eagle Scouts.

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe: extraterrestrial life and life on Earth. It investigates the link between life and the universe, which includes the search for extraterrestrial life, but also includes the study of life on Earth, its origin, evolution and limits.

Astrobiology addresses the question of whether life exists beyond Earth, and how humans can detect it if it does. It uses physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, geography, and geology to investigate the possibility of life on other worlds and help recognize biospheres that might be different from that on Earth. The origin and early evolution of life is an inseparable part of the discipline of astrobiology. This interdisciplinary field encompasses research on the origin and evolution of planetary systems, origins of organic compounds in space, rock-water-carbon interactions, abiogenesis on Earth, planetary habitability, research on biosignatures for life detection, and studies on the potential for life to adapt to challenges on Earth and in outer space.

This NASA Astrobiology program will take place in Yellowstone for a week to 10 days in early July with geochemist Dr. Nancy Hinman and a small team who will conduct analyses in the field and also perform experiments in the laboratory in Mammoth, WY. These photochemical experiments will monitor growth and loss of photochemically-active components such as hydrogen peroxide. On early Earth and on present-day Mars, UV radiation bombarded planetary surfaces. Any life would have had to develop strategies for surviving this bombardment. These experiments will include collection of thermophilic biofilms in hot springs for analysis and address questions about the reactions that took place on planetary surfaces. The group is particularly interested in processes that lead to preservation of microfossils and biosignatures on Earth that can be extrapolated to processes that may occur on Mars. There will be a lot of hiking, observing, and sampling.

The Eagles will fly to Missoula MT and drive down with the team to the site.

Eagle Scouts who are qualified and would like to be considered for this wonderful opportunity must complete an online application found here which includes a 250-word essay, no later than 11:59 PM Central Standard Time, March 15, 2017. Finalists will be announced and required to submit a 3 minute YouTube video within a week of announcement expressing reasons to support their selection.

To qualify as the 2017 Eagle Scout NASA Astrobiologist, candidates must:

  • Be an Eagle Scout
  • Be 18 years of age by June 1, 2017
  • Must be in good physical condition
  • Major or intend to major in a biological science in college or graduate school
  • Be prepared to blog, speak, write, and be interviewed on behalf of Scouting to report on the trip, what it means to him personally, and how Scouting prepared him for this
  • Have medical insurance and complete a BSA Medical form

The person selected to be the 2017 Eagle Scout Speleologist will be notified by May 1, 2017.

Costs for the selected candidate will be paid by NESA. The Eagle may be responsible for some expenses not to exceed $1000.

Dates for this approximately 10-day trip will be in early July.

Click here to apply.